Gallery of Fashion – Lady’s 18th Century Fashion Guide
After a lengthy drought in all things 18th century, the Antiques Roadshow finally featured something of interest to this blog again. And on one of your most popular topics: fashion!
A lady brought along four 18th century fashion guides, dated 1795. Illustrated with 174 of the most stunning fashion plates, these guides gave highly detailed information on all things chic. What to wear, where when, how and in what manner – the “Vogue” of the Age of Enlightenment, of sorts, only without the intent to make everybody look like clowns. Bonnets, morning dresses, gloves, even how to style your ringlets. The complete guide to beauty.
How I’d love to flip through those pages… I did flip something else, though, when the expert stated that the value of those guides was in the fashion plates (about £100 per plate), and what some would do was to cut the books to sell them.
Pray tell, what did I just hear? Cut the books? Cut the books?!
How about pointing out the historic value, which is in the context? How about selling prints instead? I hope to the Gods nobody ever comes along and has a long-lost portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds valued by her, she might advice to cut it down to fit the frame.
Luckily, the owner of the books immediately said that she had no intention to cut the books. Brava, brava!
Edit for clarification: the expert didn’t say “go forth and cut ye olde bookes”. But she said, as I wrote above, that the value was only in the fashion plates, made no mention of the historical value and context at all, and gave the impression that cutting the books wouldn’t be a big deal. Antiques Roadshow experts always put emphasis on context and historical value as soon as an item dates back to WWI or WWII. However, history is more than wars. I don’t think a comment along the lines of “…some would cut the books to sell them, which would be a real shame/remove the historical context etc.” would have been too much to ask of an expert.
Here are some of the plates – please note that I had to do a bit of “cut and paste” work to show them as complete as possible, but due to ratio issues during capping, you can sometimes see where I patched the individual pictures together. Nevermind, I hope you will enjoy them, anyway.
“Watering Place” – needless to say, this was my favourite of the plates shown on telly!
What fascinated me was the date of these guides – 1795. It’s very much Regency – which was still 16 years away! Fashion is faster than politics, it seems!